During the evening last night, while reading about what there was to do in the area, I re-read the information about Kamikochi (the area that we drove past yesterday, and where we tried to go last year). I thought that the tolls were going to be extortionate (well, they kinda were…), but at ¥2000 we thought that if it was good weather, we’d go check it out. And man, was it ever good weather when we woke up. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about the start of a day. Seriously, I was ecstatic. It wasn’t just sunny, but it was also cloudless AND amazingly clear. No haze/fog. Nothing. It was seriously the best weather that we have had all trip. I couldn’t believe my luck. So yeah, we went to Kamikochi.
We left the michi-no-eki at about 8AM (nearly a record), and tried to head to the Naka-no-yu bus stop (the closest/cheapest), but had no luck finding it, so kept driving down the road for another 15 minutes to the Chaarashi car-park/bus stop. ¥500 for parking and ¥2000 for return bus tickets. Expensive, but I was so excited that I didn’t care. (Oh, and this weird little creature was stuck to my side mirror… half wasp, half mantis)
We’d remembered earlier in the morning that it was a Saturday (it’s easy to lose track), which made us a little sad as we knew it meant that we’d be sharing it with hundreds of other tourists, especially since the weather was so amazing. Since there wasn’t much we could do about it, we just tried to rush there as quick as we could to try and beat the rush. No such luck, the buses started at 5:30AM.
We caught a bus at 9:07AM, with barely a free seat inside. We drove up the road for the third time (yesterday being the second), but this time the traffic cops allowed us through the tunnel towards Kamikochi. Finally, new scenery! It was a pleasant 20-30 minute shuttle journey, when finally we caught our first glimpse of the ‘Japanese Alps’. The bus stopped to let people off at the Taisho Pond, so we jumped off too. The pond was formed by a semi-recent eruption that blocked the flow of the river. The pond is super clear and shallow.
From the pond we followed the walking trails beside the river for what felt like eternity (3-4kms). I complain now, but at the time I was so pre-occupied with the mountains. Honestly, the most beautiful view I have seen yet in Japan. Utterly amazing. Funny though, the first thing I thought when I saw it was, “I’m not in Japan anymore, I’m in the French Alps”. Not that I have ever been to the French Alps…
Anyway, lots (and lots) of walking. Constantly getting new angles of the towering mountains as we followed the river further upstream. We were at 1500m (which is higher than the summit of Niseko Annupuri), just to give a sense of scale. Lots and lots of (slow walking) tourists too, though I didn’t care, I was content (as long as I could overtake them).
We eventually walked to the far end of the walking trail (about 7km from where we started. I wanted to see one final pond (I really wanted to see everything that I possibly could). And, I couldn’t believe it. To access the pond, you had to pay a ¥300 entrance fee. What could you do? We just walked 45minutes (from the central bus station) to reach this area. I wasn’t going to turn around and walk back (though, I wasn’t going to pay the ¥300 either). I gave in, and begrudgingly paid the fee and joined the flow of tourists in. Honestly, it was somewhat of a let down, had I of known what I was going to see (and how many other people were also there, getting in the way of MY photos), I would have thought twice about coming to the far side of the park.
But, if I hadn’t made the trek, we wouldn’t have had the pleasant return journey that we had (the route there was plain/boring). We were following the river, with the cascades, fallen trees and general moss coating everything a beautiful furry shade of green.
And then!! Monkeys! First I saw a couple looking up in front of us, and wondered what was the attraction, then I looked up above me, and saw a giant monkey (and his dangling testicles). Well, it wasn’t giant (though, its testicles were), it was just really really close. I did my best to get some photos, but he wasn’t interested in staying still for photos. I followed him up the path, where we saw some baby monkeys. Oh, my, god! They were the most amazing things I have ever seen. I was ridiculously tempted to try and pick one up (and take it home). We must have spent 15 minutes watching them play, trying my hardest to take some photos (I really regretted leaving my 70-200mm in the car, and the polariser on my 28-70mm). I didn’t have much success, so I gave up, and just enjoyed watching them be monkeys, falling out of trees, and just… monkeying around.
Less than 15minutes from where the monkeys were, we were back at the central bus terminal area, ready to catch the bus back to our car so that we could go pass out. We were exhausted. 11.3km walk, which isn’t much, but we’re not very fit. We’d planned to head to Takayama City tonight, but I wasn’t in the mood to drive, so we headed back to the same onsen we went to last night, bathed, then headed to the same michi-no-eki we left from this morning (though, via a small supermarket to get meat for dinner).
しらべてみると立山、黒部などに比べれば、上高地は、さほど高くはないよう。 そうだね、せっかくだし行ってみよう♪ そうと決まれば、さっと支度とご飯をすませいざ出発！
上高地までは、環境保護のためマイカー規制がかかっている為、車は駐車場（５００円）を停め、上高地までのシャトルバス（往復￥２０００）の券を買う。 シャトルバスに乗り込み、２０、３０分程で大正沼に到着。ここは、大正４年の焼岳の噴火で、土石流などで川が塞き止められ池になったそう。水は、とても透き通っていて、いわなが泳いでいるのが見え、かわいい鴨がすいすいと泳いでいる。かもの子供は、くりくりの黒い目でとってもかわいかった☆ 池の目の前には、標高３１９０Ｍの穂高岳をはじめ、日本アルプスが連なっている！ 穂高岳は、日本アルプスの名にふさわしく、急な深いフィヨルドのような溝に残雪がのこり、まさにヨーロッパの山の風景だった。空も雲のない澄んだ青空でロスは、人生で一番すばらしい天気と、日本で今までに見た一番美しい景色だ！とかなりごきげん♪
途中で、信州名物みそぱんをつまみ、さらに先を進む事に。明神池の帰りの道では、すぐ真上の木の上に猿を発見。じっと見ても全然きにしてないので、写真をとる。 がざがさがさっ、、、実は、まわりには、すっごくかわいい小さな小猿たち、お母さん、お兄ちゃん、お父さん、その他その他、２０匹近くの野生の猿の大家族に会う事ができた☆ こんなに近くに野生の猿を見た事がなかったので、うれしかった〜。 あかちゃん猿は、ぴょんぴょん跳ねて歩いてて、シャイで、くりくりおめめでとってもかわいかった。 これで￥２０００の価値を満喫できたな。よしよし。